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I Was a Good Dave Stevens "Good Girl"

roaring dragon, spore, monster friday
I have a piece of Dave Stevens art that hasn't been seen by anyone but me in over 20 years until about two weeks ago. It's a layout Dave drew for me for the cover of Space Vixens in 3-D, a book of Dave's short comics stories reproduced in anaglyph 3-D by Ray Zone. (Anaglyph is the kind of 3-D viewed with the iconic red/blue glasses.) I think it's about time to share it.
 
I first met Dave Stevens at a con in Houston, Texas, in 1984. Dave was that hot new guy in comics, because Rocketeer had come out of nowhere and gotten comics fans, good girl art fans, and Bettie Page fans excited. I was still cosplaying, and I stopped and talked to him at least once when I was dressed as a Plexus Ranger from Howard Chaykin's American Flagg!. (This cosplaying will be important in about three or four paragraphs.)   



(I don't have any pictures of myself in that costume, but here's one of me as Doris from "Vampire Hunter 'D'", taken at a friend's place on Halloween 1987.)

Sometimes people say Dave was born a little too late, I think he was born just in time to make sure pulp had a chance to be new. (When I visited him in Santa Monica in 1988, and was looking at all the things he had crammed in his teeny apartment, I found a badge a friend had made for him; it said, "Dave Stevens: the answer to the question where are all the new old hacks coming from.") Pulp and pinups were sure new to me, and Dave's work didn't look like anything I'd ever seen. His girls were pretty, his colors were gorgeous (he colored his comics art on photostats using markers, Q-Tips, and, well, spit (he said)), and Dave was absolutely the best artist working in comics in the 80s, hands down.

I loved Dave's art, and was a frustrated model (I'd done a little work in high school), and I wanted to be in one of Dave's pinups. So, I did what I've done a lot in my comics career, I just asked for what I wanted. Maybe I asked Dave if I could model for him in 1987, when I saw him again at the first San Diego Comic-Con I went to, or later when we were corresponding. (With letters sent with stamps. Only people who didn't want to be able to pay their rent used email in 1987, Compuserve was often spelled "Compu$erve" for a reason.)

On June 24 or 25, 1988 (twenty-two years and eleven months ago), Dave sent me this letter with the Space Vixens in 3-D layout:



(A "Jackson" was old-fashioned slang for a $20 bill. Dave also used the vintage slang "pins" to complement my legs, "Great pins!" The lettering jobs were how I planned to make money in comics and network at the same time. It was working for Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai, Stan was lettering the Spider-Man daily newspaper strips and drawing Usagi. This plan worked out okay for me, even though I was never even remotely as good as Stan.)

Here's the layout Dave sent with the letter and the Jackson:




(Dave Stevens, graphite and ballpoint pen on vellum. Right-click and open in a new tab to see a larger image.)


The reason my cosplaying ability was important was because I had to cobble together approximations of the costumes in the layout for the photographs so Dave had a better idea of how what he drew would drape and fit over an actual body. I made them from pieces of costumes I still had around (I quit cosplaying at conventions in 1985 because I wanted to be taken seriously as an aspiring comics professional) and my own clothes. My now-ex shot the photographs; we took them on the balcony of our first apartment, and yes there was about as much to my costumes as in Dave's layouts. We were careful and fast shooting those pictures! 

I had huge hang-ups about how I looked in then (thanks to my ex and my ex-family, sad but true), so I only looked at the photos long enough to make sure they were in focus and sent them on to Dave.

Eventually, Dave mailed me a copy or two of Space Vixens in 3-D:



(photo by Robert G)

I modeled for Dave a couple more times after that, but nothing we shot was ever used in finished art, and I never saw the pictures. I did, at Dave's urging, take self-portraits and have myself photographed and preserved the pictures. He bought me a nice album when I saw him in Long Beach in 1990, just before he went to shoot The Rocketeer movie, to make sure I did. He said I would be glad I took and saved the pictures, and I didn't believe him, but I did it anyway, and he was absolutely right.  

To this day, it's peculiar to look at this art and see myself looking back. In fact, it's more peculiar now than then, maybe because Dave has passed on and his chapter in comics and pinup art is closed. It's also kind of amazing and wonderful to realize I had the privilege and luck and chutzpah to model for and be the friend of one of the greatest pinup artists that has ever lived.

Across time and space, thanks, Dave, for letting me be part of your life and work. Mwah!
  

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